Sam Smith. Picture: Supplied
Sam Smith. Picture: Supplied

The musical evolution of Sam Smith

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Apr 12, 2019

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Get tissues and your emotions ready, Sam Smith is almost in town and ready to perform in Johannesburg and Cape Town. 

When it comes to the English singer and his career, it has been one aspiring pop stars can only dream of. Since releasing his debut album, “In The Loney” Hour, back in 2014, Smith has won multiple awards including Grammys, an Academy award, Billboard awards and many others. 

And while his breakthrough single “Stay With Me”, which also featured a version with R&B legend Mary J Blige, was the song that propelled his career, it wasn’t his first mainstream song. Before that, the “Lay Me Down” singer was featured on "Latch" by Disclosure in 2012 and "La La La" by Naughty Boy in 2013. Both these singles were a huge departure from his solo music as both are dance tracks with a unique UK EDM (Electronic Dance Music) sound. '

Smith did replicate the dance-infused song with his second single “Money On My Mind” but it wasn’t until his gospel-infused third single Stay With Me hit the airways that the singer shot into stardom. 

Listening to the rest of his debut album "Stay With Me" and to an extent "Lay Me Down", his first single from the album, both gave a better overview of the rest of the album. Thematically "In The Lonely Hour" focuses on unrequited love and failed relationship with an unnamed man. Sonically, you can feel the singer's pain through the production and the emotional turmoil he is experienced. 

Going into is the second album, "The Thrill of it All," the singer mentioned to us that he was started working on the album in a very weird space and felt very unsafe. 

Since Smith was catapulted into fame at a young age, his insecurities were only amplified. When we were first introduced to the singer he was a bit larger and faced a lot of body shaming. The singer then went on to go on a weight-loss programme and has lost the extra weight but was not comfortable in his own skin.

During the same time, he also made a controversial statement during his 2016 Oscar’s speech when he said mistakenly said he was the first gay person to when an Oscar. The singer then took a year off from fame and then took his experiences from fame and poured into "The Thrill of It All". 

His second outing saw the singer taking an introspective approach to his music. Where thematically he talked about internal struggles of reconciling his religion and his queerness, his parents' journey in accepting him as a gay man and nothing longer opening himself to someone that doesn’t deserve his love. Sonically, he also pulled back from his debut album taking a minimal approach to the production of his music. 

While Smith is known for making very somber music, the singer told us that he believes he makes music that is lighter and darker. He also mentioned that he is in a much happier space. When asked what song would describe his life at the moment Smith said it would be "Promises" with Calvin Harris. 

"I  think I’m having a lot of fun. Things are feeling lighter. And I have my down days and my down moments, but I feel like I’m really tackling them for the first time. And every time I’m tackling them I’m moving forward and understanding myself more. Promises for me showed a huge part of my personality that not a lot of people see."

The "Palace" singer is also busy working on his third studio album and speaking about it he said: "I’m writing a lot of music at the moment and I’ve nearly got a whole album together. So I’m feeling really confident about it and it’s really exciting and it's sounding incredible. And right now I’m just having in releasing the music that I want to when it feels right. So it’s nice to have a year where I’m just creating and performing."

Sam Smith is set to perform in South Africa as part of his "Thrill of it All" tour, which starts in Joburg on April 14 and 15 at the TicketPro Dome and in Cape Town on April 16, 17 and 18 at the GrandWest Arena.

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